However, despite my love for these family members of mine and even some friends who chose to be so close-minded, I was able to mature into my own person and draw my own conclusions about people and politics (while majoring in Art History and English with a master's in historic preservation studies, at two esteemed Massachusetts institutions–how "Liberal Arts" can you get?). In my older years, as with everything else, I'm proud that I've mellowed into having the ability to see people, viewpoints and circumstances–even from politicians–for their humanity, despite the fallible natures that we all share. [This skill is especially useful now that I live in the Bible Belt as here, in many ways, I am experiencing an acute inversion of most everything I've taken for granted in New England over the past thirty-five years. This is both enlightening and infuriating, depending on the day that you ask me.]
Without making this political or too personal, I just want to say that of all the moments in the past few days of the Ted Kennedy memorial, funeral and burial, the most touching were not from statesmen but from his children and grandchildren, those who had the personal fortune to spend time in those quieter hours with their very public politician father and grandfather. Kiley Kennedy, Ted Jr's teenage daughter, said this at her grandfather's burial and it was both descriptive and poignant:
When most people think of Ted Kennedy, they think about the man who changed the lives of millions of people by fighting for better health care. When I think about him, vibrant memories of sailing, laughing, Thanksgiving dinner, talking on the front porch and playing with Splash, come to mind.I hope every one of us is, or has been, so lucky as to have a "Grandpa cake" of their very own, a person that has made you feel "that the world was just right." I know I have been.
To me, all the things he has done to change the world are just icing on my Grandpa cake of a truly miraculous person. You see, my Grandpa was really a kid. If you ever saw him conducting the Boston Pops, that's what he was like all the time with me. He knew how to joke, laugh and have fun like the time we played games with all the cousins at my 14th birthday party. I remember him smiling, playing and dancing that day. And I'll never forget everyone's smile that he had made.
I will always remember the times we spent sailing on Maya when I could tell that he was the happiest in the world, even when he was yelling, "Get that fisherman up!" But what I will miss the most are the times I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and would go to the front porch, where my Grandpa would be sitting with Splash and gazing out to sea. It would be just us on the porch for a while, and we talked and talked. And I would get a feeling that the world was just right. It was me and him sitting on his porch watching a new day unfold as we stared into the sea of freedom and possibilities. I love you so much, Grandpa, and I always will.